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Girl_Powered's avatar

A difficult question about male & female attitudes.

Asked by Girl_Powered (503points) June 21st, 2009

I have spent several days being part of a support group for a girl whose husband has just left her because she had a voluntary mastectomy after two cancer scares. Her family has a very strong history of breast cancer death and she decided to ensure her health by choosing mastectomy. Her husband told her that he did not want to face the rest of his life having sex with a breastless woman and that he would leave her if she went ahead. She did and he left her. My inital reaction was outrage, but having calmed down, is he really that wrong? They are in their twenties and she was very attractive before. She will be again, but not as sexy I suppose.

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41 Answers

Judi's avatar

No reconstructive surgery? They make them look so real now!

Facade's avatar

Her husband is an asshole who (i think) doesn’t really love her.
“for better and worse. in sickness and health”

Girl_Powered's avatar

@Judi “No reconstructive surgery? They make them look so real now!”

This was a total mastectomy, much of the muscle tissue as well. She faces months of physiotherapy, then reconstructive using body fat, not that she has much. She has been told that she will eventually look normal clothed, but not naked or to the touch. Not going to look the same in a bikini.

marinelife's avatar

If I was this woman, once I was past my hurt, outrage, and devastation, I would fall on my knees nightly thanking my lucky stars that I had had the good fortune to find out what a shallow, unloving, non-stayer I had married early on in the relationship.

Women are not made women or beautiful by the presence of breasts. Should this issue be that critical to her, she will have options of reconstructive surgery and implants if she wants them.

It is most important for your friend to realize that she is not flawed or damaged. Is Christina Applegate any less beautiful after having her breasts removed?

If a man only loves you because of how you look, does he really love you at all? Is he capable of true love?

I applaud your friend’s courage in putting her health first. I wish her a bright future. I am so glad she is free now to find a man worthy of her.

eponymoushipster's avatar

“in sickness and in health”

what kind of unsupportive, unloving asshole was she married to? that’s f’d up, seriously.

cookieman's avatar

What @Facade said. ^^ Guy’s a shallow schmuck.

I tried to think on his point of view, give him the benefit of the doubt – but ya know what? I came up with nothing.

There’s no excuse for that kind of selfish, vain behavior. If I knew him, I’d fuck him up.

Fyrius's avatar

I’m a guy and I say he’s an utter dick.
How shallow, to let an entire marriage hinge on the presence of someone’s breast tissue. Isn’t he attracted to any aspect of her besides her body?

Though I suppose it’s easy for me to judge from the safe comfort of my armchair.

Judi's avatar

@Girl_Powered ; I can’t believe that with implants and tattooing nipples they can’t make her look and feel close to normal. I am so sorry for her loss on all fronts. I hope she has gotten several opinions form experienced plastic surgeons. They can do amazing things. I have a recommendation of a very good one in Orange County, California if she needs it.

joooon's avatar

If this was boyfriend and girlfriend I could maybe understand, but husband and wife.
Her breast should close the deal on if he married her and the same with divorce.

I would normally see myself disagree with most things the norm would agree to but he is a dick.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

The husband has no justifiable reason at all for leaving her. Despite the heart-pain this’ll cause her, I’m glad for her that she got rid of that shallow prick.

SirBailey's avatar

She did the RIGHT thing, no matter what anyone else thinks.

PupnTaco's avatar

She’s better off without that shallow, self-important loser.

DarkScribe's avatar

In trying to be impartial, I can see that this might be a very difficult question for some men, particularly if young and with what they regarded as a sexy wife. If her fears were supported by medical opinion and advice, then yes, he is a bastard. If her reaction was precipitous, and her condition could be managed by careful monitoring, then maybe not. A man does appreciate his wife’s beauty and physical attractiveness, particularly her breasts in the case of many men. I would not consider leaving my wife under those circumstances, but then I do know that if she made a decision like that, it would definitely be the best decision.

I suppose that it really depends on whether her choice was an essential one. If it wasn’t then it could be like having a spouse who insisted on having facial tattoos (if you didn’t like tattoos), deliberately doing something to themselves to make them less attractive to their partner.

Basically, even if the guy could find some justification, he still comes across as shallow. The least he could have down was supported her through this, then decided if – after reconstructive surgery – he really couldn’t live with her. Regardless of the detail, she is going to be better off long term with him out of her life. He wasn’t there when really needed.

joooon's avatar

I’ll give it ago: This would be a very hard decision for the man I think we could all agree on that, I would hope most sensible people would have some emotions to understand what she is going through.
The initial feeling for the man would be…..Na I can’t do this he’s a douche

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

She is young and now free of a husband who probably would’ve dropped several other bombs on her down the road. It’s cruel but she really is better without him now so she can be supported by genuine friends and family and be open to a better suited person in the future. I’m just assuming here they don’t have kids together or a long history of joined families and mutual friends because that’s painful to sort through in a split on top of any illness.

Girl_Powered's avatar

@hungryhungryhortence “I’m just assuming here they don’t have kids together”

No, they have no kids. That was another one of his objections, that she would not be able to breast feed.

loser's avatar

I think he’s a jerk for leaving her and she’s better off without him.

casheroo's avatar

@Girl_Powered Jesus, I’m all about breastfeeding, but this is one of the reasons there is formula! What an asshole.

Okay, if he had been upset, and mourned a little bit (sounds silly, but I know I’d be mourning my breasts if I lost them.) then that’s fine. But he left her because of this? I’d be outraged too. If I were her, I’d be too angry to even be said that such a piece of shit would do such a thing.
Who knows though, maybe he’ll come to his senses, and needed time to cope. Even though she went through the surgery, it still does affect family emotionally. He should still be there for her though.

I’m so sorry for your friend. My mother’s friend had a total mastectomy as well, because of such a strong family history (mother, aunts, sister…all breast cancer) A huge decision but it seems like the only way to prevent it :(

aprilsimnel's avatar

Oh, gawd. Reading that made me sad. He’s too immature right now to know what he’s done. One day it will hit him like a ton of bricks.

KatawaGrey's avatar

What gets me about this is if she had lost a leg or an arm, this wouldn’t be an issue. No one would be trying to play devil’s advocate, no one would question his motives. This isn’t as if he stayed with her a while and then found that she had changed because of the surgery. Yeah, he’s a scuzball. I hope your friend finds someone who doesn’t care about her lack of breasts and loves her, smooth chest and all.

Blondesjon's avatar

I think her boyfriend proved what I’ve always said.

Breasts are for babies.

(grow up and realize that a woman is more than a pair of tits)

SuperMouse's avatar

I think that is an absolutely ridiculous reason for a man to leave a woman. I know my man loves my breasts, but I am just as certain that he would stay with me even if the breasts were gone. This is not a “man” at all, but a spoiled little boy she’s better off without him. It seems to me that if he really did love this woman he would be pleased that she has made a decision that will help assure she will be around for a long time to come.

My hat’s off to @loser, @DarkScribe, @PupnTaco, @eponymoushipster, @cprevite, @Fyrius,, and @PupnTaco, and @SirBailey (if your name is reflective of your gender), all men who stepped up to say this guy is an idiot. Now I see @Blondesjon crafting a response, he is so going to be lumped in with you guys who know what love really is.

joooon's avatar

I’ll just include myself in that.

SuperMouse's avatar

@joooon I didn’t know your gender, sorry! You are so included!

Jeruba's avatar

Imagining no cancer, no mastectomy, now she’s forty and those enticing mounds of fatty tissue are going flat or drooping or just not perking up as they used to. Now suppose she’s sixty. How many times will he have left her by now?

Likeradar's avatar

Wow. What a dick. And kudos to all of you for saying that better than I can.

Darwin's avatar

Any man that would put breasts ahead of potential cancer in his wife is not a man invested for the long haul. However painful it may be now, she is probably better off losing him now rather than later. A guy who can’t tolerate a flat-chested woman probably couldn’t tolerate one that is bald from chemotherapy either.

She needs to find a real man, not an immature boy.

sakura's avatar

Wow! What a situation and what a lot of passionate responses, I only hope that your friend can find the strength to find love again. My aunty has just lost her husband and I can’t help but think this so called husband has no real inclination as to what love is. My aunty is struggling to come to terms with not having her husband anymore and the pain this is causing is immense, this so called husband would rather have a pair of tits than his wife… not a man in my opinion. My husband loves mine but I know he loves me more I hope your friend finds happiness againxx

Clair's avatar

Well with that kind of determination and bravery, she’s bound to find love again that @sakura mentioned. Good for you friend though! What courage! And what a bastard her husband is! She’s going to be 200% better without him!
She should get gigantic, man loving, fake woo-ha’s and go strutting around him one day after the much-needed divorce! ha! IN YO FACE!

DrBill's avatar

I help put families back together, but not this one.

She is much better off without him dragging her down.

cookieman's avatar

@Girl_Powered: I gotta figure, this can’t possibly be his first display of asshole behavior.

Is it?

jumpo7's avatar

Gotta chime in on the side of the husband is scum. She is much, much, much better without him. Your friend will now have a chance to find her true love.

wundayatta's avatar

This is an extremely callous thing to do. However, I’m not sure it’s just about physical looks. When a woman who is part of a couple faces a serious illness, it is far too common for the guy to cut and run. Guys can be real wusses, and some just can not see themselves caring for a sick person.

It is scary caring for sick person. You don’t know what will happen. You don’t know if you can help. You can’t imagine dealing with blood and vomit and whatever else people imagine when they think about sickness. We’re talking breast surgery here, but that does not preclude an irrational reaction related to an inability to cope with a spouse’s illness.

I think it is normal for people to believe they will do the noble and honorable thing. But some people, faced with the reality of a lifetime of caring for a sick person, just can’t handle it. This is a woman, who, despite her double mastectomy, still could get cancer. Shameful as it is, a lot of people just can’t handle that. They may not feel up to watching someone die, especially if that is someone they love.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the guy feels like a dick, too. He’ll probably be trying to repress these feelings, and justify his actions to himself and to others. Few people really want to beat themselves up over what they have done.

When I was younger, sick people scared me. People with headaches all the time, or who were in pain of one kind or another all the time… I wasn’t sure if I wanted to sign up for a lifetime of being a caretaker. I think I was as supportive as I could be, but it was overwhelming, and when we drifted apart emotionally, I think part of it was due to my inability to cope with my friend’s illness.

Of course, illness is a part of life. And when you do get married, you do sign up to be with a person no matter what. But when the “no matter what” hits, it’s not always easy to stick it out forever. My wife admitted to me over the weekend, that if I had remained sick for another year, she probably couldn’t have taken it, and would have left, to protect herself and our kids.

We’ve seen each other through an awful lot. It would and has been really hard for us to give up on each other. Still it is possible to imagine that it could be too much.

I think this guy in his twenties, as immature and young as he was, probably just couldn’t see himself being a caretaker or even being around a sick person, even if he was married to her. So he ran.

It is cowardice. It is being a dick. It is shallow and hurtful. It is inhumane. And yet, it is also human. It is easy to sit here in judgment, knowing as little as we do. It is a lot, I think, to expect perfect selflessness of others.

I just wonder if everyone who judges would be as noble and selfless as they would like to think, should they be faced with a similar situation. Is there no one here who has left someone because they were sick? Chronic illness, I believe, is a very common cause of divorce. I think we don’t have to condone this behavior, but this rush to judgment doesn’t feel right to me.

casheroo's avatar

@daloon I sort of touched on that in my answer. He may just be really really freaked out. Yes, it’s terrible and disgusting to leave her at a time like this, but like I said, failing health affects family as well as the person suffering. I think it would be hard to forgive him, but if he came back and apologized profusely, explaining why he left, then they may have a shot. But, then again, he may just be a true asshole

Blondesjon's avatar

@daloon. . .I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that more folks would stay with their sick partner than “turn tail” and begrudge them their treatment.

cookieman's avatar

@daloon: When you love someone you are there for them. Period.

If you are freaked out, fine. You tell your wife this. You seek out help if you can’t do it alone. You communicate your fears; maybe go see a counselor. But more than anything, you grow the fuck up and do what you promised you would do when you spoke your vows.

Darwin's avatar

@daloon: I haven’t left my husband even though he has now been seriously ill for ten years. Yes, I had my moments of fear and freaking out, but I married him because I loved him and promised to stick with him “in sickness and health, til death do us part.” It hasn’t always been easy (and he has actually died several times) but I would never leave him. In fact, his illness has made it all the more important that I stay with him both to take care of him and to enjoy him while I can.

You can freak out about changes in your spouse, but if you love them you will stick with them. You may have to get help, but you don’t leave. You might be attracted to someone because of their breasts, but if you marry them you aren’t just marrying a pair of breasts but the entire person.

wundayatta's avatar

I totally agree that you don’t leave. As I sometimes do, I’m trying to offer an explanation for this kind of behavior. Please don’t mistake it for an endorsement of the behavior. There are too many immature people who jump into marriage and when it gets serious, freak out, and, instead of trying to figure out how to handle it, they just run.

Girl_Powered's avatar

@cprevite “I gotta figure, this can’t possibly be his first display of asshole behavior.

Is it?

Yes, strangely, it is. Prior to this many of her girlfriends envied her for him.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i don’t think this has so much to do with his “male attitude”, just an attitude commonly found in people who put more into physical appearance than they probably should. i think it’s horrible, of course, that he’d leave his wife because she has done something for her own well-being that makes her not as ‘attractive’ as before, but i guess it’s just a negative trait some people unfortunately have.

Thegoodlife's avatar

That guy is not a man. If they were only dating, then maybe it would be understandable cuz the feelings would be more shallow than marriage. But when you marry a girl, you’re telling her you love every part of her no matter what, unless of course she betrays you or what not. That guy is an idiot.
This is coming from a guy by the way.

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